Gestational Diabetes Mellitus – The Bare Basics About The Disorder

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) refers to an increase in blood sugar levels, to various degrees, during pregnancy. GDM occurs when the tissue demands for normal blood glucose regulation are not met due to inadequate insulin supply.

gestational diabetes mellitus
Gestational diabetes mellitus can lead to premature delivery of the baby.

The Risk Factors Of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

As a pregnant woman, you are at a high risk of GDM if you have:

  • A history of obesity
  • A family history of Diabetes Mellitus
  • Previously delivered a baby that weighed more than 4 kilograms
  • Glycosuria, a condition in which there is glucose in your urine
  • Auto antibodies, which are self-destructing entities that obstruct the pancreas development by destroying beta cells
  • Certain infections like acanthosis

The Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

This condition is represented by the following gestational diabetes symptoms:

  • Frequent urination, increased thirst, dryness in the mouth
  • Increased hunger
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections of the skin, urinary tract, or vagina
  • Nausea and vomiting

How To Diagnose Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus is diagnosed by conducting an oral glucose tolerance test. The American Diabetes Association recommends that this gestational diabetes test be conducted during the initial antenatal visit (for women with high risk factors) or between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy (in women with no previous history of GDM).

The Complications Of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Gestational diabetes complications can affect both the mother and the fetus.

Complications In The Mother

These are the complications that pregnant women with GDM can face.

  1. Vaginal Bleeding: GDM may lead to the disruption of the placenta (the organ that supports the blood circulation of the mother and the fetus), leading to vaginal bleeding. This may also cause pain in the abdomen.
  2. Premature Labor:  Diabetes during pregnancy may lead to premature delivery of the baby.
  3. Cesarean Deliveries: GDM often results in overweight babies, and this could make it impossible or tough for the mother to have a normal vaginal delivery. Delivery through a Cesarean section is recommended in such cases.
  4. Miscarriage: There is a higher than normal risk of miscarriage.
  5. Hypertension: The mother may be prone to hypertension.
  6. Recurrence Of Diabetes: Diabetes may occur again later in life.

Complications In The Fetus

These are the complications that GDM can cause in the fetus.

  1. Macrosomia: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus increases the risk of the baby being large for its gestational age, i.e. weighing more than 4 kg  This is known as macrosomia and it is caused by over-nutrition.
  2. Neonatal Hypoglycemia: The baby’s blood sugar can drop to very low levels after birth, since it doesn’t receive the requisite blood sugar from the mother.
  3. Trauma: There is an increased risk of trauma to the baby during delivery.
  4. Congenital Malformations: Diabetes can affect the developing fetus throughout the pregnancy. In early pregnancy, a mother’s diabetic condition can result in birth defects and an increased rate of miscarriage. Many of the birth defects that occur affect major organs such as the brain and heart.
  5. Jaundice: GDM can cause an accumulation of a waste product called bilirubin in the baby’s blood, which can in turn can cause jaundice.
  6. Respiratory Distress Syndrome: In many cases,The baby’s lungs are not fully developed and cannot provide enough oxygen to the rest of his body.
  7. Low Calcium Levels: The calcium levels in the baby’s body are decreased.
  8. Obesity: There is a possibility that the child will grow up to be obese.
  9. Recurrence Of Diabetes: The baby may get diabetes again later in life.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Treatment Options

Reducing your weight, following a low-cal diet for gestational diabetes, and getting regular insulin doses can go a long way in helping you counter GDM. With proper treatment, you can deliver a healthy baby despite having diabetes.

If you take proper precautionary measures against gestational diabetes mellitus, especially if you are a high risk candidate, you can make sure that you have a smooth delivery and a normal baby.

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